The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) today, 28 October 2013, announced that it has approved the registration of six biogas production operations at Izimpongo Village, Melmoth and Mgwabi Village at Eshowe respectively in rural KwaZulu-Natal.
The registration of the six operations was done in terms of section 28 of the Gas Act, 2001 (Act No. 48 of 2001) (‘the Gas Act’).
Section 28 of the Gas Act requires owners of operations involved in the production, importation and transmission of gas for their own exclusive use and small biogas projects not connected to the national gas pipeline grid to register such operations with NERSA. These operations are not required to be licensed, but must be registered with NERSA.
The six operations in KwaZulu-Natal come shortly after the registration of 21 similar biogas production operations in Limpopo and one in Pretoria in July this year. Most of these biogas operations are in rural areas and consist of a fixed dome plant that uses bio-digesters to produce biogas from waste material, which will be supplied to heating appliances in peri-urban and rural dwellings.
The gas production technology from bio-digesters presents opportunities for diversification of the energy mix through means that are affordable to most communities, particularly in rural areas where access to energy has remained a major challenge. Biogas is certainly poised to play a vital role in the energy mix in South Africa.
The recently registered operations produce biogas from cow dung, pig manure, kitchen waste and agricultural residues through anaerobic digestion. These projects enjoy wide support from communities as waste material is readily available to many in rural and urban areas. The biogas technology also plays a vital role with regard to environmental protection and the promotion of a cleaner environment. Where biogas is used in cooking and heating, less wood is used resulting in a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and inhalation of smoke from woodfires which has caused health problems among rural communities, especially women and children.
The benefit of the collective self-production of gas in different rural and urban households also lies in the potential for relief on the staggering demand currently placed on the national electricity grid. The fact that many households can use the technology to produce their own energy for needs such as cooking, lights, warming up their houses and even to produce their own electricity means the current demand on the national grid will be alleviated.
The use of this technology will reduce dependence on electricity and will, in the long term, help to reduce the strain on the national electricity grid in South Africa.
A total number of 38 gas production operations have been registered by NERSA in the KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Gauteng, Free State, Western Cape and Gauteng provinces since 2011.